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We thought it was ours … and now it’s not

Geoff Helisma |

The price of progress is often unknown until it comes knocking on the proverbial door; at least that’s how it feels for Peter and Tania Shugg.

The Yamba couple live on the south eastern corner of the Carrs Drive and Yamba Road intersection, where planning for a new roundabout is underway.

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) is currently designing roundabouts for intersections along Yamba Road at Treelands, Carrs and Shores drives “to improve traffic flows and ease traffic congestion during peak tourism periods”.

The council applied to the NSW Government’s Growing Local Economies Fund in April 2017 and, come August 2018 CVC, councillors approved the development of a business case for ‘Improving Access to Yamba Road’.

In January this year Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis announced that CVC had won a $4.4 million grant to complete the works, also including managing the traffic at the Yamba Street and Yamba Road intersection on Palmers Island.

For Mr Shugg it feels like 17 years of hard toil – to, firstly, purchase the house and land located one block from the intersection and, secondly, purchase the vacant corner block to provide a play area for their growing children – has been undermined after learning that their land will potentially be resumed to build the roundabout.

“We invested in the vacant adjoining block to one day build a duplex on it to help pay for our retirement,” Mr Shugg said. “But we’re not ready for that, we still have two small children.”

Clarence Valley Council advised the Shuggs in a letter: “…it is important for the timely progression of the work that discussions and agreement can be reached for the potential acquisition of either all or part of the vacant residential lot located at 186 Yamba Road…

“The proposed discussions are intended to discuss the option to utilise your land, receive your input, and ideally reach agreement on a way forward.”

A meeting on Monday July 15 was not a pleasant experience for the Shuggs: “I believe they will take the block regardless of what we say or do,” Mr Shugg said.

“They mentioned options like a diagonal boundary adjustment or taking the whole block.

“We thought it was ours … and now it’s not.”

The Independent asked CVC: ‘Given that it is inevitable that a resumption will occur, to allow the construction of the roundabout, please advise how CVC would go about ascertaining the value to compensate the current owners, regarding the acquisition?

‘Please let me know what CVC’s general intentions are, within the constraints of what is appropriate to put in the public domain.’

A CVC spokesperson, however, said the council “won’t comment on property negotiations”.

The negotiations are governed by the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991.

In the event that an agreement cannot be reached, the Valuer General (VG) independently determines the amount of compensation to be paid by the acquiring authority to the former land owner.

Among other things, the VG must consider: “(a) the market value of the land on the date of its acquisition; (b) any special value of the land to the person on the date of its acquisition; (c) any loss attributable to severance;

“(d) any loss attributable to disturbance; (e) the disadvantage resulting from relocation; (f) any increase or decrease in the value of any other land of the person at the date of acquisition which adjoins or is severed from the acquired land…”

The Shuggs contacted Cr Karen Toms by email; however, she was unable to assist because the roundabout work “is operational”.

“Councillors cannot interfere or direct staff on operational matters,” she wrote in an email.

“I have been advised by our general manager, Ashley Lindsay, compulsory acquisition is the last path council want to go down.”